Feeling Gravity's POLL: REM's "Fables of the Reconstruction"

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

This was the REM album it took me the longest to go from being ehh on to being completely in love with. Now there's not a single track that doesn't hypnotize me in some way or other. Maybe the closest thing in the whole catalog to "Murmur" in a way. BUT WHAT'S THE BEST SONG??

Poll Results

OptionVotes
"Driver 8" – 3:23 14
"Feeling Gravitys Pull" – 4:51 13
"Kohoutek" – 3:18 7
"Green Grow the Rushes" – 3:46 6
"Cant Get There from Here" – 3:39 5
"Life and How to Live It" – 4:06 5
"Wendell Gee" – 3:01 4
"Maps and Legends" – 3:10 3
"Good Advices" – 3:30 2
"Old Man Kensey" – 4:08 0
"Auctioneer (Another Engine)" – 2:44 0


Doctor Casino, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 02:29 (eleven years ago) link

Can't imagine "Driver 8" won't win, though "Gravity's Pull" is a strong dark horse.

Michael Train, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 02:59 (eleven years ago) link

Peter Buck hates "Wendell Gee." He's so wrong.

But I voted "Gravitys."

Hideous Lump, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 03:03 (eleven years ago) link

Their worst album before Green. Not much I remember other than "Wendell Gee," "Driver 8," and the execrable "Can't Get There From Here." Voted for "Wendell Gee."

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 03:04 (eleven years ago) link

this is a good record to separate the old school fans from the fans of the multi-platinum years. i think this is way more interesting than anything that came after, but it is murky and hard to penetrate. can't get there from here doesn't fit on this album or anywhere else, it's just a jokey throwaway that somehow became a (semi)hit.

velko, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 03:16 (eleven years ago) link

kohoutek is their greatest song ever.

keythkeyth, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 03:53 (eleven years ago) link

i like "can't get there." but yeah, i have a lot of affection for this record. "feeling gravity's pull" is probably my favorite, but "driver 8," "kohoutek," "life and how to live it." "green grow the rushes" is really pretty. good album.

tipsy mothra, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 04:04 (eleven years ago) link

Poll title was a toss-up between this, "KoPOULLtek," and "POLLed Man Kensey" which I kind of regret not going with.

"Kohoutek" is the real slow-burner of this record, I like it more and more with every single listen. "Driver 8" just kicks ass, so does "Can't Get There From Here" which also has Stipe going "Yeep!" at the beginning. Are the really big horns on this or only on Eponymous?

And then there's "Life And How To Live It," maybe the last of their great skittery jittery rockers where it feels like the wheels are going to come off at any moment - the descendent of Chronic Town and "9-9." After this record they still did plenty of great rock tunes but they were more locked down somehow - don't quite know how to articulate this but there's a nervous energy that gradually gets concentrated into something more focused, not necessarily better or worse but different.

Doctor Casino, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 04:23 (eleven years ago) link

I voted for "Driver 8" in homage to the startling proportion of my sophomore year of college I spent playing it on my crappy acoustic guitar. "Can't Get There From Here" is a strong runner-up -- not a joke track at all, I'd have thought. And indeed, "Life and how to live it." Which is more closely related to "Pretty Persuasion" than "9-9" I think, and not really the last of its kind -- that is "Just a Touch."

Here we're in the middle of a long stretch where REM were incapable of making a bad record.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 28 October 2008 04:36 (eleven years ago) link

God, "Driver 8" is so good... there's this perfect note struck of sympathetic comfort, and some great railroad travel imagery to boot.

Doctor Casino, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 04:39 (eleven years ago) link

"power lines have floaters so the airplanes don't get snagged"

that line is almost exactly how my parents explained those power line balls to me when i was 7 or 8. that whole song is kind of childlike, stipe doing his naive impressionist thing.

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1173/1267344528_02d8a69b26.jpg?v=0

tipsy mothra, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 04:57 (eleven years ago) link

Also reminds me a lot of Wendell Gee building the missing middle of a tree out of chicken wire - the same kind of dream logic.

Doctor Casino, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 05:26 (eleven years ago) link

can't decide between Green Grow the Rushes and Good Advices.

clotpoll, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 05:54 (eleven years ago) link

I totaled a car to "Driver 8"

Haven't decided what to vote for, but this is the only REM album I listen to now.

Chris Barrus (Elvis Telecom), Tuesday, 28 October 2008 07:48 (eleven years ago) link

Voted for this. Spazzy dance and all

Chris Barrus (Elvis Telecom), Tuesday, 28 October 2008 07:53 (eleven years ago) link

Agreed about this being one of their finest moments. My first job after leaving school was in a drug company laboratory, and one of my jobs was to inspect ampoules for specks of dust, which had to be done in the chemical store cupboard with a lamp. I would sit there and play this album completely enraptured. The jar of amphetamine sulphate that was kept in there helped too.
Gravity always sends shivers down my spine.

Dr X O'Skeleton, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 10:28 (eleven years ago) link

Wendell Gee but there are at least four other tracks here vying for second place.

Matt DC, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 10:35 (eleven years ago) link

Brilliant album and another vote for Driver 8.

Live from the Witch Trials (SeekAltRoute), Tuesday, 28 October 2008 10:36 (eleven years ago) link

kohoutek is their greatest song ever.

OTM

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 11:57 (eleven years ago) link

"Wendell Gee" by a landslide. The only thing in this album that holds up to the general quality of their first two.

Geir Hongro, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 12:00 (eleven years ago) link

maybe my third favourite REM album at rough count. half the songs in contention but Driver 8 is as special as it is obvious.

Roberto Spiralli, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 12:21 (eleven years ago) link

Was gonna vote Wendell Gee but's Geir's "by a landside" has put me off somehow. No winner is going to be by a landslide - there really isn't a bad track on this and, as Matt DC says, there are so many close run second bests they may even be first bests.

Feeling Gravity's Pull has swung it, I think - "Time and distance are out of place here" sort of sums up the track. It's unsettling and fantastic.

Guilty_Boksen, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 12:52 (eleven years ago) link

I want to vote for "Driver 8," but it's like the mid-80s suburban "Layla" -- EVERY fucking high-school-age band was playing it. So I'm goin' with "Kohoutek" -- the last great mysterious R.E.M. song.

Sara Sara Sara, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 12:57 (eleven years ago) link

I want to vote for "Driver 8," but it's like the mid-80s suburban "Layla" -- EVERY fucking high-school-age ban

Really? What was the band's college radio exposure at this point? The next two records really raised their mainstream profile.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 12:58 (eleven years ago) link

they utterly unfuckingavoidable on college radio at the time. this is probably their worst '80s record.

Ioannis, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 13:07 (eleven years ago) link

oh, and i went with "Green Grow the Rushes" just for the hell of it.

Ioannis, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 13:12 (eleven years ago) link

oops *they were

xp

Ioannis, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 13:13 (eleven years ago) link

Life and How To Live It, one of their greatest songs.

kornrulez6969, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 13:33 (eleven years ago) link

I returned to vote for "Maps and Legends," a beautiful slice of beauty. This is a great album and was FURIOUS live.

Dimension 5ive, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 13:35 (eleven years ago) link

Voted "Kohoutek" last night before I had a chance to be influenced by any other opinions, but it could have been any of 3 or 4 songs. This album is the end of that stretch of theirs that I love, "Chronic Town" and the first 3 albums. After that they got boring to me.

Rock Hardy, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 13:47 (eleven years ago) link

geez, maybe I'll have time to listen to this before I vote; probly haven't played it in 15 years. In '85 I thought it was a disappointment.

Alfred so wrong about "Can't Get There From Here."

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 13:50 (eleven years ago) link

This one still sounds good all the way through. All that survives for me of the next one is Fall on Me

Dr X O'Skeleton, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 13:52 (eleven years ago) link

Alfred so wrong about "Can't Get There From Here."

But you don't dance!

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 14:44 (eleven years ago) link

dancing to rock only makes sense if it's, like, the Monks.

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 14:50 (eleven years ago) link

I don't know how 'Wendell Gee' goes so I don't understand the praise for it here.

I do like 'Good Advices' quite a bit - it has sweetness and at least a veneer of wisdom.

'Maps & Legends' I am very fond of. I like the intuitive, reflex jangling of all this.

But there is no contest: with that shimmering riff, that shuddering tipsy feeling of love, loss and time as the track stops on a cliff's edge, that title even - LIFE AND HOW TO LIVE IT

the pinefox, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 14:51 (eleven years ago) link

I never quite understood all the love for that one - I saw them play it around 1999 and the guy standing in front of me went absolutely mental in this total "now I can die happy!" way. Sounds a bit of a mess to me.

Matt DC, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 14:53 (eleven years ago) link

I'm a big fan of this album - way underrated!

I'm going with the obvious choice of "Driver 8" because that riff is one of their very best.

Moodles, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 15:29 (eleven years ago) link

I want to vote for "Driver 8," but it's like the mid-80s suburban "Layla" -- EVERY fucking high-school-age ban

So OTM

Mr. Que, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 15:32 (eleven years ago) link

live and how to live it

Mr. Que, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 15:32 (eleven years ago) link

Driver 8 and how to drive it.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 15:34 (eleven years ago) link

admittedly, i haven't heard the fucking thing in its entirety for some 23(?) years. but it just seemed like such a huge letdown coming after their first two albums that i could never really go back to it.

meanwhile, Matt's back!!!

Ioannis, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 15:34 (eleven years ago) link

haven't listened to this in a lonnnnnnng time, but it's probably not as bad as Green.

Mr. Que, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 15:35 (eleven years ago) link

Green may not be as consistent an album overall, but it sure as hell had greater highs than this one did.

Ioannis, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 15:39 (eleven years ago) link

This is a great album and was FURIOUS live.

OTM. I was shocked at how loud they were (spring '85 "Preconstruction" tour). They're neck-and-neck with AC/DC. Or at least they were then.

Sara Sara Sara, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 15:42 (eleven years ago) link

Green

I don't see any highs here, really.

"Pop Song 89" – ehhh, whatever.
"Get Up" – 2:39 not too bad
"You Are the Everything" – 3:41 pretty good
"Stand" – 3:10 I KILL YOU NOW
"World Leader Pretend" – 4:17 overwrought bologna
"The Wrong Child" – 3:36 --- ibid
"Orange Crush" – 3:51 --not too bad
"Turn You Inside-Out" – 4:16 -- ok
"Hairshirt" – 3:55 -- i don't even remember this
"I Remember California" – 4:59--crap. like side 2 of document but somehow worse.
11th untitled song – 3:10 --kinda cute

Mr. Que, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 15:43 (eleven years ago) link

I like all the Green singles ("Stand" was the first REM song I ever heard), but this is the wrong thread. The second side's awful.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 15:44 (eleven years ago) link

i dunno. a couple of those tracks are real standouts.

Ioannis, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 15:46 (eleven years ago) link

document is a bit better than green, but none of them really compare with the first 3 albums

Dr X O'Skeleton, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 15:49 (eleven years ago) link

Re: "Life and How To Live It": it's all about Mike Mills's bass part rolling up to the chorus. Incredible sense of excitement and arrival, and Stipe's lyrics are so animated! "My pockets are out and running about" somehow summarizes this entire area of their catalog.

Doctor Casino, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 16:16 (eleven years ago) link

You guys are doing a damn good job of making me listen to this after work.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 16:40 (eleven years ago) link

yeah, "life and how to live it" is the underrated gem here. as great as anything on the surrounding couple of albums (which, as noted, i prefer)

swvl, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 21:55 (eight years ago) link

i suppose it's not really "underrated" when it's received several effusive mentions ITT. still! amazing song.

swvl, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 21:56 (eight years ago) link

Best. Wish that when they decided they needed to "rock" later in their career they listened to this song.

grandavis, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 22:00 (eight years ago) link

Remaster sounds best in headphones, I think. That's where I'm really hearing the separation I'd never heard before. (Was amazed to hear the harmonica in "Driver 8," which I don't think I ever even noticed?)

timellison, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 22:20 (eight years ago) link

four years pass...

this album is all about the bass

Dr X O'Skeleton, Tuesday, 13 January 2015 23:49 (four years ago) link

OTM! Especially on 'Driver 8', that's a great bassline. I'm a huge fan of Mike Mills' playing on those early albums, although Murmur and Reckoning are so trebly that it's easy to overlook his playing sometimes. 'Radio Free Europe' is a great bassline.

You’re being too simplistic and you’re insulting my poor heart (Turrican), Wednesday, 14 January 2015 16:38 (four years ago) link

It punches through really clearly on the Murmur remaster

Dr X O'Skeleton, Friday, 16 January 2015 00:09 (four years ago) link

'Belong' on Out Of Time too, the bass makes that song in my humble opinion. As a piece of music there's very little there, but the bass gives the track melody and is the glue that holds the whole thing together!

Adore the "Belong" bassline - secret key to the chorus working as well as it does.

Doctor Casino, Friday, 16 January 2015 02:16 (four years ago) link

I haven't checked out the recent reissues with demos on the bonus discs. Are they anything more than curiosities?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 16 January 2015 03:39 (four years ago) link

demo of Hyena makes it sound like a Reckoning track; it's.. weird. also some pretty interesting other demo bits on Fables' 2nd disc. they're all on Spotify (in the UK at least).

piscesx, Friday, 16 January 2015 04:23 (four years ago) link

Just learned that Stipe's first choice to produce Fables was Van Dyke Parks, and when that didn't pan out, Elliot Mazer. Either of those could have been very interesting.... (but I love Joe Boyd's production here and elsewhere nonetheless)

Lee626, Friday, 16 January 2015 16:14 (four years ago) link

I spent a lot of time playing "Driver 8" on my acoustic guitar as a teenager. Pre-internet, Stipe's mumble of the "power lines" line made it impossible to transcribe. I rewound the cassette *so* many times, only found it out from a piece of sheet music several years later.

Chuck_Tatum, Friday, 16 January 2015 16:30 (four years ago) link

I want to vote for "Driver 8," but it's like the mid-80s suburban "Layla" -- EVERY fucking high-school-age band was playing it.

This can't possibly have been true, can it?

I loved this album when I was a teenager. I think I voted for "Feeling Gravity's Pull"?

EveningStar (Sund4r), Friday, 16 January 2015 16:38 (four years ago) link

Hyena was a Reckoning-era track. It shows up frequently on bootlegs of the era.

campreverb, Friday, 16 January 2015 16:56 (four years ago) link

Yeah, there's quite a few songs from Life Rich Pageant that came from the Reckoning era and even earlier. Pageant was a bit of a backlog-clearing exercise in a way.

What If We Give It Away goes right back to the beginning of the band iirc

MaresNest, Friday, 16 January 2015 17:39 (four years ago) link

"Just a Touch" as well

col, Friday, 16 January 2015 18:14 (four years ago) link

Yeah, definitely 'Hyena', 'Just A Touch' and 'What If We Give It Away?' had been around for a few years. I think 'I Believe' was a leftover from Fables although it's possible they may have had it earlier in some form or another.

Wow, I love how sloppy and fucked-up that "Hyena" is. I mean, I love it on the record for the tightness of the riff wiring its way around the beat, but between the two versions you can really triangulate the drunk party band on the bootlegs, the hypnotic post-punk band on Chronic Town band, and the sunny propulsive rock band on Reckoning through Life's Rich Pageant. All the same dudes playing songs that really weren't that different, just a few minor adjustments. It's like the Cavern Club vs. Revolver.

Doctor Casino, Friday, 16 January 2015 19:28 (four years ago) link

one of the songs (Throw These Trolls Away) seems to have some of the I Believe lyrics in it.

piscesx, Friday, 16 January 2015 19:56 (four years ago) link

After all this time, what I remember was it was a very pretty record but I had a roommate at the time who was poisoned with inexplicable hatred for R.E.M. For making a pretty record. Or something.

SCOTTISH PEOPLE ONLY (I M Losted), Friday, 16 January 2015 23:50 (four years ago) link

If I remember, Fables Of The Reconstruction was the last of the IRS-era records I heard, and I never could fathom why the band themselves were so down on it or why it was treated as if it was some kind of "crisis" album. I mean, sure, the band sound like they had a terrible time making it, but why I listen to 'Driver 8', 'Maps and Legends', 'Life and How To Live It', 'Green Grow The Rushes', it's just as good as any stuff they'd done up to then. I think the band have changed their mind about the record in recent years and I'm glad about that.

You’re being too simplistic and you’re insulting my poor heart (Turrican), Saturday, 17 January 2015 00:49 (four years ago) link

Yeah, I was disappointed to read that. It has such a strong sense of nature and geography, whereas other R.E.M. records address that stuff more directly. With this one, the sense of place is in the music.

SCOTTISH PEOPLE ONLY (I M Losted), Saturday, 17 January 2015 17:10 (four years ago) link

It's got that Americana vibe, like Wichita Lineman.

Dr X O'Skeleton, Sunday, 18 January 2015 18:12 (four years ago) link

Pulled out the album again on Friday to absorb to and from work. For the love of god I don't hear what you guys do: retreads, murk, bleh.

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 18 January 2015 18:18 (four years ago) link

Relistening to Life and How to Live It, I'm struck by how much it sounds like Makoto Kawabata nicked the opening for Pink Lady Lemonade

spliffify (Drugs A. Money), Sunday, 18 January 2015 18:39 (four years ago) link

Love this record. Their last really great record IMO (he writes, ducking).

And EveningStar, it is totally true that Driver 8 was covered by everyone, even by bands for whom it was their one "indie" song (also Radio Free Europe). But the Buck lick is the one song everyone with an acoustic guitar knew. (Even though Boxcar was a little cooler.)

stop torturing me ethel (broom air), Sunday, 18 January 2015 20:56 (four years ago) link

four years pass...

read just about every paragraph

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 21:35 (two weeks ago) link

the sky is open armed
when the light is mine

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 21:36 (two weeks ago) link

Surprising poll results; these are some of the best songs on there:

"Maps and Legends" – 3:10 3
"Good Advices" – 3:30 2
"Old Man Kensey" – 4:08 0

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 21:37 (two weeks ago) link

look at his shoes

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 21:37 (two weeks ago) link

ew

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 21:39 (two weeks ago) link

at the end of the day
when there are no friends
when there are no lovers

L'assie (Euler), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 22:16 (two weeks ago) link

what do you have to saaaaaaayyyy

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 22:24 (two weeks ago) link

Locomotive 8, Southern Crescent, hear the bells ring again

Mule, Thursday, 7 November 2019 13:47 (one week ago) link

"Life and How to Live It" – 4:06 5

my actual favorite rem song

american bradass (BradNelson), Thursday, 7 November 2019 13:52 (one week ago) link

No album sounds like this album

Mule, Thursday, 7 November 2019 14:00 (one week ago) link

So there's a dude named Pablo Hidalgo who is a longtime employee of Lucasfilm in their Story Group and (until recently) interacted a lot with fans on Twitter. His wife Kristen is also on there and her handle is @ManRaySky, which is awesome.

"Life and How to Live It" – 4:06 5

my actual favorite rem song

way up there for me, too

at home in the alternate future, (Karl Malone), Thursday, 7 November 2019 15:16 (one week ago) link

I've given this album more chances than most and it'll always be meh, but I do appreciate how the arrangements strive (and achieve) for a half-awake stumbling feel.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 7 November 2019 15:22 (one week ago) link

This may be their most criminally underrated album.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Thursday, 7 November 2019 15:23 (one week ago) link

Embrace the murk, Soto!

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Thursday, 7 November 2019 15:24 (one week ago) link

At this point every R.E.M. gets called their most criminally underrated album.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 7 November 2019 15:24 (one week ago) link

Except in this case it's true

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Thursday, 7 November 2019 15:30 (one week ago) link

r.e.m. didn't put out a "meh" record until reveal

american bradass (BradNelson), Thursday, 7 November 2019 15:44 (one week ago) link

I feel like Maps and Legends should be higher than Green Grow the Rushes.

For me it probably would be Driver / Maps / Can't Get.

It is a pretty good record

tempted by the fruit of your mother (Ye Mad Puffin), Thursday, 7 November 2019 15:47 (one week ago) link

I usually skip "Maps and Legends", too much of a drone. It's the song where I understand why someone wouldn't like this album, or even this band.

But those last three songs, or even the last four: building up to a final relief. maybe today I would rate "Auctioneer" the highest. they're songs of a band exhausted by the road that already an album earlier was at best viewed ambiguously ("another Greenville, another Magic Mart"). but rather than write about I dunno, Bob Segar style, they characteristically code their images. But they build and build, from frenzy to anxiety to a final passing.

L'assie (Euler), Thursday, 7 November 2019 15:57 (one week ago) link

counterpoint: not a drone

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-2QlXO1SYY

american bradass (BradNelson), Thursday, 7 November 2019 16:08 (one week ago) link

And then there's "Life And How To Live It," maybe the last of their great skittery jittery rockers where it feels like the wheels are going to come off at any moment - the descendent of Chronic Town and "9-9." After this record they still did plenty of great rock tunes but they were more locked down somehow - don't quite know how to articulate this but there's a nervous energy that gradually gets concentrated into something more focused, not necessarily better or worse but different.

― Doctor Casino, Monday, October 27, 2008 11:23 PM (eleven years ago)

OTM on "Life and How to Live It". When Bill "Blue"Berry plays that disco-esque beat at such frenetic tempo (a la "Hyena", "Harborcoat", et al) it feels like a dangerously-fast downhill ride on an unfamiliar road. I also love the backup vox in the chorus, and those walk-up bass notes that precede it. "my CARPENTERS OUT AND RUNNING ABOUT!!!!..."

What's the deal with the liner notes and its listing of trakcs that aren't actually on the album ("When We Were Young")? Or did I hallucinate that like a "Wendell Gee" fever dream?


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.